Britain Remembers Its ‘Finest Hour’

Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (www.theird.org) and author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Follow him on Twitter: @markdtooley.


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At last year’s commemoration, Archbishop Sentamu joined in paying tribute to 14 British military personnel who perished in a Nimrod strike aircraft in Afghanistan in 2006 while on reconnaissance against the Taliban.  After the service Sentamu sat in the co-pilot’s seat of a Nimrod for a test run of its engines.

Archbishop Sentamu seems to sense a special spiritual responsibility towards the RAF and Britain’s armed forces.  Five years ago he visited an RAF training session and personally flew in a Grob Tutor aircraft.   “I am on record as saying that the Royal Air Force is the best in the world,” he later said. “They have a difficult job to carry out which they manage to do with skill, flair and dedication. The men and women of the RAF, like all in the armed forces, deserve our support for their unswerving commitment in the face of danger and their willingness to do so on behalf of each of us.”

The next year Archbishop Sentamu personally jumped from a military aircraft at 12,500 feet as a fundraiser for families of the British killed and wounded in Afghanistan.  “I give thanks today for the amazing sacrifice our armed forces and their families have made,” he remarked later.  He waved the victory sign as he fell through the sky with “Red Devil” paratroopers.  And he has said if he had joined the armed forces he would have been first a pilot and secondly a parachutist.  The military’s risks and service “in defense of the crown” contrast with the current times’ preoccupation with “me-me-me” and merit the nation’s gratitude, he has said.

Sentamu had opposed the Iraq War but his opposition was “no longer relevant” after the war began, he has explained of his solidarity with the British military and its exertions in “defense of our liberties.”  The Archbishop of York, unlike many native born prelates in the Church of England, is unashamed of patriotism and military service, which he rightly understands as service to God and humanity when properly performed.

Would that other Western, senior church officials shared Sentamu’s good instincts and robust defense of lawful societies. The remaining 3 years of commemorating World War II’s struggle between liberty and slavery would be an ideal time for them to rediscover what the Archbishop of York evidently never forgot.

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  • southwood

    One of the few remaining men of integrity in the CofE hierarchy.

  • Martin

    You will find the Vulcan was a nuclear carrying VBomber, greatly feared by the Russians. It actually flew an aggressive mission by bombing the airfield in the Falkalnds, during the was with Argentina

  • PaulRevereNow

    John Sentamu–a man truly worthy of Churchill. Should be England's next Prime Minister.

  • pennylane

    Let's not forget that the Jews whom Britian had just, during their finest hour, liberated from Hitlers death camps payed their respect by terror bombing the British out of their Palestine mandate and hanging their troops from the trees.

    So this love of Churchill and his Empire seems only to arise when it suites into Zionisms fancy. LOL

  • bubbaland1

    It is great to read something positive and uplifting for a change.
    Benjamin

  • Suzanne

    There should be more like the archbishop!

  • 77patriot

    Let's hope he is made the next Archbishop of Canterbury. He's just what the C of E needs more of –stout hearted Godly men.